The telecom services under Department of Telecom was bifurcated in to three companies as part of the neo-liberal policies as the first step towards privatization. The first company, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) is already privatised by handing over to Tata and is now Tata Telecommunications. The second is Mahanagar Telephones Nigam Limited (MTNL), which the government has made it loss making for years. More than 44 percent shares are also sold, staff is ridiculously reduced through VRS, and the government may move for privatization at any time. The third company, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is bifurcated in to another company BBNL earlier. Now the Cabinet has taken a decision to convert the tower assets of BSNL in to a separate company with the intention of sharing the tower assets with other telecom companies. Although the move has started in 2015, it could not be implemented due to the strong protest of the workers and their unions under the leadership of Forum. Now the Cabinet has taken decision today to form the separate Tower Company. This will be a great tragedy for BSNL with the revenue from the towers going to a different company. This is a tactic of the government to make BSNL further loss making to justify its strategical sale.
The time has come for bitter struggle to save BSNL and its workers. BSNL, which was having about 3.5 lakh workers at the time of formation has been reduced to almost one lakh and eighty thousand due to non-recruitment in vacant posts. Every month it is being reduced.
The central government is cleverly reducing BSNL to a position in which it will not be able to come back. But they are forgetting the workers and their unions, who have fought and defeated unbundling of the valuable copper cables, disinvestment, VRS also cancellation of mobile tenders etc. tried by the government and saved BSNL.
V.A.N.Namboodiri is the Founder General Secretary of BSNL Employees Union – Van Namboodiri Blog